Utes looks to crash another Michigan ‘house’ party

By Christopher Kamrani, Asst. Sports Editor

Novelist Thomas Wolfe wrote the book “You Can’t Go Home Again.” For Michigan football, dropping the first two games at home last season made that title applicable to the program and was a sign of things to come.

Following an extremely displeasing season to Michigan football standards8212;three home losses, most painfully to rival Ohio State8212; Wolverine fans might be biting their lips in anticipation for the Utes.

Michigan were the goats of last season after starting as trendy preseason BCS pick, they were victimized by then Division 1-AA Appalachian State at the “Big House” 34-32. The Mountaineers’ quarterback Armanti Edwards carved up the Wolverine defense in the spread offense8212;the same offense the Utes and now Michigan will use this year.

The next team to visit Ann Arbor, Mich., were the Oregon Ducks. Lead by the versatile and blatantly athletic Dennis Dixon, the Ducks ran away with an equally shocking 39-7 game.

The Michigan motto is “Go Blue,” and by this time last year, many of the Michigan faithful had gone blue, but for the wrong reasons.

Michigan had not lost an opening-day game since 1998 when they fell to Notre Dame in South Bend, Ind., and were undefeated in home openers since 1989, ironically also losing to the Fighting Irish 24-19.

Head coach Rich Rodriguez anticipates another opening-day battle against the U.

“I’ve said it before, they may be the best team since Urban’s (Meyer) team went to the BCS,” Rodriguez said. “They have a very athletic quarterback who runs the spread that we’ve had problems against in the past. They have explosive players and they have some of the fastest corners we’ll play against.”

For the Utes, they will have to prepare for many players that have never started a collegiate game, including a double-headed quarterback8212;as of right now.

“Any opener has an element of unknown regardless of circumstances,” head coach Kyle Whittingham said. “It is always a best-guess scenario. It is positive for us both offensively and defensively. There are similarities to us in schematics.”

Michigan’s duo of Nick Sheridan and Steven Threet at quarterback have kept the competition so close since spring practice, Rodriguez has yet to name a starter and there is a good chance the Utes won’t know until they take the field Saturday.

Last season, the Wolverine offense was stockpiled with talent. Quarterback Chad Henne (Miami Dolphins), running back Mike Hart (Indianapolis Colts) and receivers Mario Manningham (New York Giants) and Adrian Arrington (New Orleans Saints) were all taken in last year’s NFL Draft.

While Michigan’s offense is largely young and inexperienced, the defense is the offense’s Mr. Hyde. Coach Whittingham admits, though it’s always hard to prepare for any football team, you have to wait to get your feet wet.

“We have to go into the game with a broad-based game plan,” Whittingham said. “Two to three series in, you get a good idea of your game plan. Football is a game of adjustments8212;we will make them based on what we are seeing.”

While both coaches are likely pumping their respective teams up as the underdog, both admit what is necessary is to walk away with a win.

“We have to go play well and play our best football,” Whittingham said.
Rodriguez was a bit more blunt saying, “We can’t do the dumb things to beat ourselves.”

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Associated Press

Michigan Coach Rich Rodriquez anticipates a tough game against Utah in their opening game of the season.